- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: William Morrow (June 11 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062132466
- ISBN-13: 978-0062132468
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3 x 22.9 cm
- Shipping Weight: 522 g
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #625,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Last Original Wife: A Novel Hardcover – Jun 11 2013
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From the Back Cover
Experience the sultry Southern atmosphere of Atlanta and the magic of the Carolina Lowcountry in this funny and poignant tale of one audacious woman’s quest to find the love she deserves, from New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank.
Leslie Anne Greene Carter is The Last Original Wife among her husband Wesley’s wildly successful Atlanta social set. His cronies have all traded in the mothers of their children they promised to love and cherish—’til death did them part—for tanned and toned young Barbie brides.
If losing the social life and close friends she adored wasn’t painful enough, a series of setbacks shake Les’s world and push her to the edge. She’s had enough of playing the good wife to a husband who thinks he’s doing her a favor by keeping her around. She’s not going to waste another minute on people she doesn’t care to know. Now, she’s going to take some time for herself—in the familiar comforts and stunning beauty of Charleston, her beloved hometown. In her brother’s stately historic home, she’s going to reclaim the carefree girl who spent lazy summers sharing steamy kisses with her first love on Sullivans Island. Along Charleston’s live oak- and palmetto-lined cobblestone streets, under the Lowcountry’s dazzling blue sky, Les will indulge herself with icy cocktails, warm laughter, divine temptation and bittersweet memories. Daring to listen to her inner voice, she will realize what she wants . . . and find the life of which she’s always dreamed.
Told in the alternating voices of Les and Wes, The Last Original Wife is classic Dorothea Benton Frank: an intoxicating tale of family, friendship, self-discovery, and love, that is as salty as a Lowcountry breeze and as invigorating as a dip in Carolina waters on a sizzling summer day.
About the Author
New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank was born and raised on Sullivans Island, South Carolina. She resides in the New York area with her husband.
Top customer reviews
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Her characters are so true to life I find myself cheering them on as the book evolves. If you want a recommendation for the perfect
summer novel then this is the one.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Leslie left college 1 semester short of graduation to get married (and she was pregnant). That would have put her about 20-21 years old. The ages of her kids and the fact that she and Wes are closing in on their 30th wedding anniversary all make sense given that "fact". However, in the book, Leslie is turning 60 and Wes is close to retirement. That's not possible. The entire storyline doesn't fit or make sense. She'd be turning 50, not 60. It was really hard to get past that major flaw - it bugged me through the entire story.
I started out really liking it. I felt sorry for the character Les and was pulling for her to make a change and was curious to see what she might do to old Wes to either change him or teach him a lesson. But then, let’s see… her kids have been grown and gone for a while, even though they were kind of bums. So why didn’t she go back to school? Get a job? Volunteer? Yoga? She just keeps living the same day/day and boozing it up at the club with her husband night/night. She gets with her old friend Danette and harps about the gold digging Barbies coming to get their husbands but she still does nothing, even after a Barbie snags Danette’s. Suddenly by accident she discovers she’s uber rich! Money gives her the courage to visit her brother in Charleston, SC, who her husband has not allowed her to see in years due to his bigot belief system. Then we discover the brother lives a mere 5 hour drive away from Atlanta. Funny, but Frank didn’t paint Les as so beaten down and overridden by her husband that she couldn’t have spent a tank of gas and driven down to see him anytime she wanted. Wes was stingy but maybe if she traded 1 expensive cocktail dress for a tank of gas now and then?
So while visiting her brother she meets up with her old high school flame, who is a successful doctor and well to do. In a few short weeks, they are an item again. And yet Les still doesn’t want to divorce her stingy husband. Instead, she presents him with an ultimatum that he legally split most of their assets, buy her a house in Charleston where her new beau is, with furniture, and keep up her health insurance, etc. All this so she can be with her old flame while living off the fat of Wes’ wallet. Meanwhile Wes wants her back to take care of him. We don’t want her to go back and Les doesn’t want to go back either-- but she also doesn’t want to let that wallet out of her clutches! Still, she continues to act like he’s the one keeping her from moving forward. Meanwhile, the old boyfriend is just waiting in the wings like a weak-minded putz! But on his behalf, the writer gave him no personality at all. That aside, how was Les behaving any different than the Barbies at that point? Then suddenly towards the end, the no account kids ‘see the light’ after she gives them a long overdue tongue lashing about their lackadaisical lifestyle. Really? To Les’ delight, the deadbeat son gets with her dead best friend’s (rich) daughter, and her daughter Charlotte snags a rich doctor. It came off as a ‘Do as I do not as I say’ kind of lesson from mother to kids.
The end wraps up quickly as if the writer suddenly became as bored with these plastic people as I was. Everyone suddenly sees the light and all the characters sing kumbaya and the stars align and they do the right thing and live happily ever after. Pffftttt! I felt misled about 35% into the story. I thought I would travel with the main character as she escaped from an unhappy marriage, meet herself at age 60, and let me (us) cheer her along her journey. But no, it was just another bed-hopping story that no one had to give up, do, or discover anything for themselves in their little KardCASHian world. Oh honey, please!! While the writer has good skills, the story and character development sorely lacks. Jo the dog was the only one who jumped off the page! Perhaps it would have come off with more substance if Ms. Frank had allowed one of Harlan's ghosts to tell the story!
The book also captures a moment of rebellion. Leslie has buckled under to Wesley's bullying because of an unplanned pregnancy. She finds out her husband has made her shop with coupons, never own a new car and bullies her for the sake of a couple hundred dollars, but they have 22 million in a joint account she knows nothing about. After 30 years of making do an being a doormat for everyone, Leslie has an epiphany when she falls into an uncovered manhole and it takes forty-five minutes for her husband to notice she is not there. They are in Scotland so he can golf and he does not see the point in missing his tee time, just because she is hospitalized in a foreign country with a broken arm and fractured front teeth and a torn up lip.
Leslie leaves and goes to rekindle the relationship with her gay older brother that she has marginalized to make Wesley happy and recovers the person she was and the love she lost. Leslie finds help from Ms. Jo and her pearls and an obscure Southern author. Digging into the history of her hometown and the history of her past, helps her make decisions on how to go forward into her future. Every wife has always wanted to run away at least once from her life. I loved the relationships of the characters and I am glad I did not let an editing mistake make me miss this story.